Cute, viral… but effective?

It amuses me just how many people confuse viewers or exposures to use the correct lingo (I guess) with effectiveness. Take this quite viral video by a well known German company:

It has racked up almost a quarter of a million views on YouTube since being posted just two days ago. Not bad, even in terms of “traditional” advertising. It’s also quite good that it is subtitled in English to appeal to an international audience… which no doubt facilitated that I (based in the UK) got the video from someone based in the US (!).

All good then… Well… here’s the problem: The video might have gone happily viral, and it may be seen by a lot of people, but how many of these are likely to purchase the product (and I guess that is ultimately why they made the video?)? Well, the person who sent me the video had no idea what the video is about, let alone that it is an advert, and thought it was from a German TV show. I can understand he was probably confused because it was just too long … and you have to wait for a long time until you get to see what it is all about (and I’m not gonna tell you, but I dare you to watch it for that looooooong!).

Again it raises the problem, of what social media campaigns are actually designed to achieve? The product is a new product line, so how does “going viral” in a market where the product isn’t even available help? It is also evidently not a cheap production, so someone must have spend quite some money (and thought?) on thinking “How do I get that product known?”. Of course, it’s easy to suggest that social media is simply unpredictable (well.. sort of…), and that nobody is in control (sort of…). But that doesn’t mean that spending lots of money and have a “hit and miss” approach to media and campaign planning is the answer. Instead it means clearly that what marketing managers should be doing is be extra careful about what they do: how they integrate messages and how they ensure that messages are not just “cool” and “shareable” – but also achieve an objective. The sad realisation for many marketers maybe that in the end, social media is actually often not such a revolutionary media at all… but rather just another communications vehicle, with some characteristics that complement traditional channels. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make social media in any way immune to good old planning, rather it shows that established theories, models and (prior) research is even more applicable in an environment where messages travel at supersonic speed. And that when all is said and done, having a hyper “cool” video, a great viral ad or a gazillion-times shared pic doesn’t always mean you are successfully influencing behaviour, purchase intentions or even brand-connected emotions.

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